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Of Mice and Men

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Introduction

How does the opening scene prepare the reader for the rest of the novel? In opening passage of Of Mice and Men it seems as though Steinbeck takes great pains to familiarize us with the setting, and the descriptions of nature that he uses though-out , are very poetic and stand apart from the rest of the novel, which is composed primarily of dialogue. An example "Evening of a hot day started the little wind to moving among the leaves. The shade climbed up the hills toward the top. On the sand banks the rabbits sat as quietly as little gray, sculptured stones."(2) Steinbeck however still uses simple descriptions of the landscape; a secluded river taking refuge in a valley. To forehadow to the reader future events. This is apparent though his carefully chosen language, imagery, symbolism, character description and narration all of which forebodes the reader for many of the themes they will encounter in the novel; friendship, dreams, loneliness, and despair to tragedy. The scene opens with a vivid and evocative description of the landscape and natural beauty of the Salinas River a few moles from Soledad. Steinbeck goes on to describe the sometimes harsh, sometimes caring physical and emotional landscape; all an element of life that is already witnessed. The evocative description begins by highlighting a theme that is present thought-out the novel. ...read more.

Middle

A majority of the contrasts are based solely on Strength vs. Weakness. Another contrast on the ranch is between the people with power: Slim who is respected for his wisdom and competence; Curley who has power, but only because he has inherited it from his father who owns the ranch and employs the men. This agrees with the fact that the majority of contrast consist of Strength vs. Weakness. The pattern of calm and disorder in the opening scene mirrors the pattern of events in the novel as a whole. in the first paragraph in which Steinbeck uses evocative and vivid language, a sense of calm and undisturbed silence is felt, this mirrors the beginning of Lennie and Georges adventures when they rest in a campsite for the night. Steinbeck then describes a slight disturbance, 'the leaves lie deep and so crisp that a lizard makes a great skittering.' This also mirrors the situation further on in the novel when George and Lennie about constantly asking for ketchup, and George finally losing his temper 'I got you! You can't keep a job and you lose me ever' job I get'. However this could also mirror when Carlson tries to kill Lennie's dog. The slight disturbance is lost again and the calm is restored again as 'the rabbits brush to sit on the sand' this reflects the fact that George and Lennie restore silence and stop arguing because Lennie is warned not to say anything by George. ...read more.

Conclusion

The opening sequence also indicates that it was based on the American Dream, because immigrants dreamed of a better life in America. People went there to escape from persecution or poverty, and to make a new life for themselves, precisely why Lennie and George left Weed to go there. Another way that the opening scene of the story prepares the reader for the events of the rest of the story is through the subtle, yet significant introduction to the main characters George and Lennie. Within the first paragraph we learn of Lennie's fascination with animals 'I remember about the rabbits, George.' We also learn that they left Weed to escape prosecution, as previously through George's anger, the audience learns that one of the 'bad things' occurred at their last job, in Weed, when Lennie wanted to pet a women's dress. We learn a great deal of background information through the first sequence subtly yet detailed. The opening sequence prepares the reader for future events in many different ways. The use of language, imagery, symbolism, character description and narration all of which forebodes the reader for many of the themes they will encounter in the novel; friendship, dreams, loneliness, and despair to tragedy. All of these techniques foreshadow events and help the audience understand the characters, their environment and era they lived in without experiencing it themselves. So a combination of historical and social facts, with a range of contrasts help the audience understand and sympathise with the assorted characters. Jennifer Bamford Miss Mc Inerney TM yr 10 ...read more.

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